The role of ultrasound in the follow-up of children with differentiated thyroid cancer

Reza Vali*, Marianna Rachmiel, Jill Hamilton, Mohamad El Zein, Jonathan Wasserman, Danny L. Costantini, Martin Charron, Alan Daneman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Thyroid cancer is the most common endocrine malignancy with relatively good prognosis in children. However, unlike adults, children usually present with more advanced disease and have a higher local recurrence and distant metastases. Thus surveillance for recurrence is a major goal of long-term follow-up. Objective: This retrospective study evaluates the diagnostic value of ultrasound (US) imaging in the post-therapy surveillance of children with differentiated thyroid cancer. Materials and methods: We reviewed the charts of 54 children (40 girls; mean age 14.3 ± 3.6 years) with differentiated thyroid cancer treated with total or near-total thyroidectomy. Forty children (29 girls and 11 boys) who had routine follow-up US examinations (112 studies) were included for the evaluation of US accuracy in the follow-up of pediatric differentiated thyroid cancer. Histopathology, stimulated thyroglobulin determination, post-therapy whole-body iodine scan and clinical follow-up were used as the standards of reference. Results: Mean period of follow-up was 34 months. The frequency of recurrence was 42% (17/40). Seventeen percent of the children had lung metastases either at presentation or on follow-up. In all cases of lung metastases, stimulated thyroglobulin level was greater than 10 ng/ml. The sensitivity was 85.7%, specificity 89.4%, negative predictive value 94.4% and positive predictive value 75% for US in detecting loco-regional recurrence in follow-up studies of pediatric differentiated thyroid cancer. In 17.3% (18/104) of studies, the results of stimulated thyroglobulin and US were discordant. Conclusion: US showed very good sensitivity and specificity and a high negative predictive value for evaluation of loco-regional involvement in follow-up of pediatric differentiated thyroid cancer. Diagnostic whole-body iodine scan is indicated when serum anti-thyroglobulin Ab is high, or in cases of discordant findings between US and stimulated thyroglobulin levels, or when stimulated thyroglobulin levels are >10 ng/ml (to evaluate for lung metastasis).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1039-1045
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Radiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Iodine scan
  • Thyroglobulin
  • Thyroid
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Ultrasound


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